Born out of wedlock in a remote area of Eastern Tibet in 1937, GARCHEN RINPOCHE was recognized by the 34th Drikung Kagyu throne holder as the incarnation of an accomplished nineteenth-century Tantric yogi of unbounded, eccentric behaviors who was also the King of Nangchen’s previous spiritual guru. In an age-old monastic setting and under his own father’s strict training and discipline, the young reincarnated tulku grew up living the sheltered life of a “Rinpoche”—literally, “Precious One”—only for his life to be turned upside down at the age of twenty-one.
Suddenly, and for the next twenty years, the rebellious warrior-like Garchen Rinpoche found himself imprisoned by the Chinese in his newly occupied Tibetan homeland. It was in the prison, however, that he fortuitously met his karmic Lama, Khenpo Munsel Rinpoche, who subsequently led him through a painful transformative process from darkness to light.
There were many wounds worse than fatal inflicted on his consciousness when he had to witness the killing of innocent people, friends, and family, and Garchen Rinpoche used to think that no one in the world had as much hatred and anger as he. It was undesirable enough had he been an ordinary man in normal circumstances, but in the case of a reincarnated being and monk, the display of seemingly non-virtuous qualities was all the more unthinkable.
Nevertheless, the lessons that Garchen Rinpoche learned, and the challenges that he overcame, led to illustrious victories of the heart and of the mind, and to the defeat of the inner—rather than outer—enemies of attachment, anger, hatred, and confusion.
This is, after all, what the skillful master also wants us to learn and to understand. Thus, out of his infinite compassion, Garchen Rinpoche did not hesitate to take on infinite forms in this very life, no matter how brusque, in order to impart that same understanding in all of us.
Three decades later and continents away from his isolated home village, Garchen Rinpoche is known throughout the international communities as a deeply compassionate Tibetan Buddhist master.
SUE-SUE (TÂM BẢO ĐÀN) immigrated to the United States from Vietnam in 1975 at the age of thirteen and met Garchen Rinpoche at the Tibetan Meditation Center in Maryland in 1999. She has served as an English-Vietnamese interpreter for H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama, H.H. the 17th Karmapa, H.H. the 37th Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang Rinpoche, Kyabje Garchen Triptrul Rinpoche, and other Tibetan masters from all four lineages. She has translated, edited and published Dharma books from English into Vietnamese, and vice-versa, and founded Viet Nalanda Foundation, an international non-sectarian network for Vietnamese Tibetan Buddhists. In 2010, thirty-five years after leaving her homeland, she organized and accompanied Garchen Rinpoche on his first visit to Vietnam.
The Project to record the Official Biography of Kyabje Garchen Triptrul Rinpoche—the Lama of Many Lifetimes—began in 2003. In the beginning, the author thought it would simply be a waltz into Garchen Rinpoche’s history. It turned out to be an extensive workbook, however, while she herself had to go through many unexpected challenges of her own karma-- that which she never anticipated. Thus, from the very depths of her heart, she wishes to express her immense gratitude to Kyabje Garchen Triptrul Rinpoche for his immeasurable kindness in allowing her to continue to write his life stories—even after so long and still not having fully completed them!
More information and a treasure-trove of excerpts, stories and photos can be found on our old site at: www.garchenbiography.net
You can also write to Sue-Sue at firstname.lastname@example.org.
BERTRAND ODELYS received his Ph.D. from Harvard, and since then has been a travel writer, a restorer of rare books, and an archivist. His travels have taken him in particular to Dharamsala, where he restored the books of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, interviewed the latter several times, and wrote extensively about the Tibetans. His books include Dharamsala, Chroniques Tibétaines, 2003, also available in Russian and English, and Tôt le matin je pense à toi, 2010, about spirituality in Mauritius. Four and Three-quarter Interviews with the 14th Dalai Lama will be published shortly. He met Sue-Sue at the Garchen Buddhist Institute in 2007, and since then has been helping her with the biography of Garchen Rinpoche.
DONNA DESJARDIN (BOOK ONE) was fortunate to meet Garchen Rinpoche and took refuge with him in 2003. She supported Sue-Sue’s endeavor to accomplish this biography, so that others would have the opportunity to experience Garchen Rinpoche’s essence through it. Donna was at the Garchen Buddhist Institute in 2003 and the very first person Sue-Sue met upon her arrival for her first series of interviews with Garchen Rinpoche. Their lives intersected on auspicious occasions thereafter, which included Donna’s annual visits to the Luu home in Maryland during Garchen Rinpoche’s teaching tours.
OLIVER K. LUU (BOOK TWO) received his B.A. in History from UC Irvine, and also has a keen interest in anthropology and writing. As a child, he was introduced to Buddhism through the efforts of his parents, Sue-Sue and Sy, and first met Garchen Rinpoche at the age of nine at his home in Maryland, which doubled as the Drikung Mahayana Center, where Garchen Rinpoche came to stay and teach on an annual basis. Together with his younger brother, André, he often accompanied his parents to the Tibetan Meditation Center and Garchen Buddhist Institute during his youth. He currently works for the Department of Transportation in California, and enjoys writing fiction and reading about world history in his free time.